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CO Reports: Warm opener, reports of varied hunter success

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 9, 2021

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd East) worked a busy firearms deer opener and monitored some sport fishing activity. Officer Guida addressed deer baiting complaints/deer feeding violations that were discovered by the aviation wing. Reports were received from other hunters of illegal baiting activity. Officer Guida assisted a neighboring Conservation Officer in the seizure of a tracked vehicle that was illegally used in a wetland that was part of a Wildlife Management Area that was restricted no motorized vehicles. The hunter group also had three untagged deer. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Amber Ladd (Aitkin) spent time this week working deer opener as well as fielding several calls leading up to opener mostly about trespass issues, CWD questions, and baiting. A reminder to hunters in the area that all attractants and minerals are not legal to have out in Aitkin and several other counties due to CWD restrictions.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) took enforcement action this week for registration issues, transport loaded firearms, baiting violations, paraphernalia, and operating on closed trails.

CO Andrew Dirks (CCSRA) time was spent working the firearms deer opener. Many hunters were out, and some found good success. The mountain bike trails remain closed for the duration of the firearms deer season. Enforcement action for the week included license violations, transporting loaded firearms, and hunting over bait.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) reports checking deer hunters and ATV riders throughout the week. Enforcement action was taken for unlawful party hunting, loaded transporting firearms in motor vehicles, trespass, and litter. Benkofske met with many first time hunters, both youth and adults, who were happy to be spending time in the woods.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) saw many hunters participating in the deer season. Most were enjoying the hunt whether any deer were shot or not. The mild weather and early antlerless season were repeated as reasons for not seeing more deer.

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) This week was full of deer hunting activity as archery hunters were getting their last opportunities before the firearms deer season opened. Sullivan work with Crow Wing State Park staff to locate an archery hunter that was hunting on state park property. Enforcement action was taken and the hunters’ equipment and deer were seized. Firearms season came and a variety of violations were detected including hunting deer with aid of bait, failure to validate site tag and transporting loaded firearms.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) handled the usual Firearms Deer Season complaints, including shoot from the road, wanton waste, and trespass along with checking a few fishermen.

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked a busy weekend of firearms deer opener. Individuals were contacted regarding hunting deer over bait.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking fishermen, small game hunters, and bow hunters trying to get their deer before the firearm season started. CO Swedberg checked many hunters over the weekend with most following all the laws. Many fishermen were seen throughout the weekend as well, with fishing reports being fairly good. Enforcement action for the week included deer license violations, ATV violations, and hunting over bait. CO Swedberg also assisted White Earth Conservation Officers with some trespassing issues.

CO Al Peterson (Osage) checked deer hunters over the opening weekend. Hunters reported bucks were moving, dispute the warm weekend. Peterson worked trespass, baiting and unlicensed hunter calls, additional violations of baiting and tagging/ validating were handled as well.

District 4 - Walker area

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports preparing for the rifle deer season. Mild temperatures allowed hunters to sit longer and many had harvested deer. He reports fielding numerous calls from the public in regards to the deer season, trespass and miscellaneous complaints. Enforcement action consisted of WMA violations, validation/tagging violations, vehicle trespass and operating ATV’s during closed hours. He would like to remind public land hunters to pack out all trash and to not litter.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) had a busy week with training and the firearms deer hunting opener. A fair amount of deer were taken. Enforcement action was taken for various violations.


CO Nick Baum (Park Rapids) patrolled the area for Recreational Vehicle, Small and Big Game Hunting Activity. CO Baum observed varied success with Firearm Deer Hunting opener. CO Baum investigated multiple hunt with aid of bait cases. CO Baum also responded to multiple TIP calls. CO Baum took enforcement action for Hunt with aid of Bait, Small amount of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Para., Fail to Validate Deer Tag, Untagged Deer, and Fail to Display ATV Registration.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked small game hunting, archery hunting, and the regular firearm deer season opener. There were many hunters out with the mild temps over opener. Hunters reported mixed success. Enforcement action was taken for numerous ATV violations and Big Game Violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) worked a busy firearms deer opener in Cass Co. Hunters reported mixed success over the weekend. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked deer hunters. Many reported not seeing many deer. Some grouse hunters and anglers were checked. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait.

CO Calie Kunst (Remer) spent time checking multiple deer hunters over the opening weekend. The warm weather seemed to reflect negatively on the success of hunters harvesting deer. Various violations were found and enforcement action was taken on multiple Big Game violations.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) followed up on a wetland violation, investigated a beaver trap theft, and took numerous complaints of spruce-top theft. Deer opener weekend was spent checking deer hunters, ATV enforcement, and following up on TIP calls. Enforcement action was taken for leaving decoys and a jon boat unattended for several days on forestry land and public waters, expired ATV registration, transporting a loaded firearm on an ATV, possession of an untagged deer, and illegal deer shining.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) monitored small game hunting and recreational vehicle activity during the past week. Time was also spent working a busy opening weekend of the firearms deer season in the Grand Rapids area. Complaints were received involving hunter harassment and trespassing. Enforcement action involved big game hunting violations. Holt worked with other officers in assisting local law enforcement with locating a lost hunter.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked a busy week prior to firearms deer opener with many archery hunters in the woods taking advantage of prime rut conditions. CO Sutherland observed a more than average hunter participation rate with many sportsmen in the woods pursing whitetails. Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over a baited area, failing to register a deer, failing to tag a deer and failing to validate a deer tag.


CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) enjoyed talking with deer hunters over the busy firearms opener. Overall harvest rates in the area seemed to be lower than average likely due to the unseasonably warm weather. Several youth hunters were contacted in the field and reported shooting their first deer this year.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area

CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked deer hunting activity and addressed issues with bait, lack of orange, and hunting in a restricted area. OHVs were also out and producing registration violations. Verkuilen also attended training and answered Mille Lacs regulation questions.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) worked small game, trapping, and ATV activity in the Isle area. Firearm deer opener brought a very busy weekend. Hunters reported the evening hunt to be successful on opening day. Several complaints were followed up on including trespass, litter, target shooting, and reckless discharge of a firearm. Enforcement action was taken on hunting over bait, hunting in a state park, no registration on off-highway motorcycle, and fail to remove drum 7 days after the close of bear season.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Malmo) spent time patrolling opener of firearms deer season, small game hunting, and ATV activity. Enforcement action was taken for lend and borrow deer tag, fail to validate deer tag, transport loaded firearm, target shooting during deer firearm season, and various ATV violations. The officer also followed up on hunter harassment calls and many hunting questions.

CO Dustie Speldrich (Willow River) checked hunters over the firearms deer opener. Reports of hunting over bait and possible lend borrow violations were taken. She also answered youth hunting questions and nuisance beaver calls. Speldrich assisted the county sheriff with a call of a suicidal person.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) worked a busy deer opener with warm weather and deer movement slowed. Baiting cases were made, along with hunting illegally in a state park. Some fisherman were checked having success. Starr also worked with other agencies on wetland items.

CO Mikeena Mattson (Wealthwood) worked a busy firearms deer opener weekend. Enforcement action was taken for various violations, including: lend/borrow a tag, fail to validate deer tag, no deer hunting license in possession, and juvenile on ATV without helmet. A turkey possession tag was issued to a motorist that hit it. Multiple deer hunting complaints were followed up on.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked with other neighboring CO’s on wetland violations and prepared for the firearms deer season. Deer season was busy on Saturday with many people having success and seeing many deer. Warmer weather slowed the movement down but many hunters were able to bag a deer. Officer Westby would like to remind hunters they may need to get ice on their deer so they don’t spoil. Westby received several phone calls over the weekend for wounded deer that jumped onto others posted property because stands are placed too close to property lines and the wounded deer often run into other people’s property. Enforcement over the weekend include, tagging violations, fail to validate, hunt over bait, no pheasant stamp, open container, attempt to take a buck over limit, big game license lend and borrow violations.


CO Tou Vang (Pierz) fielded various questions about the deer rifle opener. A land owner reported finding a nice buck that was shot about mid-week prior to the opening morning. Contact was made with numerous hunters who were successful. Enforcement action was taken for shining for deer after allotted time, no license, no license in possession, deer over limit, illegal party hunting, trespass, and transporting loaded firearms. A bear case was also made as the hunter fail to register a bear bait station.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked fall activities this week. The officer took calls concerning deer licensing questions. The officer assisted neighboring officers with deer hunting calls. Fishing in the area continues.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) reports a busy deer opener. Enforcement action was taken for transport loaded gun, lend/borrow license, untagged deer, and trespass. A case was also made were a subject entered posted property, without permission, and shot a buck within 500 feet of an occupied residence.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) spent the week preparing for a busy deer opener. Numerous hunters were out enjoying the mild fall temperatures. Hunters were finding moderate success and CO Krauel observed several nice deer taken along with several hunters getting to bag their first deer. Enforcement action for the weekend included hunting without a license, hunting over bait, transporting an illegally taken big game animal, untagged deer, and transporting a loaded firearm.

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) had a busy opener with questions on party hunting and trespass questions. CO Hanna investigated non-tagged deer and transporting loaded firearm. CO Hanna also wants to remind people to dispose of the deer carcasses in a proper manner and not in the ditch of someone else’s residence.

Aviation Section

Standby Pilot CO Tim Gray (Bemidji) flew pre-deer season missions for area officers and a station flight for an officer to get a bird’s eye view of his work area.

CO Pilot Jason Jensen (Brainerd) reports a busy week of flying in support of field officers for the upcoming firearm deer season. Numerous baited stands were documented, along with a few wetland impacts. Jensen responded to attempting to locate hunters in a state park, a watercraft in distress and a potentially downed aircraft. In between working deer hunting activity, Jensen checked anglers from the seaplane. Minor safety violations/registration issues were found. Photos were taken for a case where a person drove an Argo throughout the wetland area of a WMA and one area was found to have evidence of a Sherpa ATV disturbing wetland areas.

NR pilot Brad Maas(Brainerd) completed a post maintenance test flight in helicopter, and did administrative tasks. He also did an evaluation flight with a candidate for the CO Pilot/NR Pilot position.


CO Pilot Charles Scott (Grand Rapids) Flew multiple flights in search of illegal baiting. Charles provided pilot applicants with tours of the local area. He repositioned aircraft after completed maintenance. Assisted in location of a lost hunter.

Water Resource Enforcement Officers

WREO Joseph Stattelman (NW) spent the week working small game and big game hunters. Bait sites were checked. ATV activity and AIS compliance with LSPs was worked. Assistance was given to locate a missing boater with K135. Deer opener was worked with neighboring officers. Open cases were updated.

WREO Robert Haberman (North Central) worked the deer opener assisting area officers with calls. Several baiting cases were followed up on. Tactical Flight Officer duties were conducted with the Aviation Unit for ground support.

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